He's good enough, he's smart enough and doggone it, people like him. Well, apparently, they only like him on television (the film made a little over $911,000 in theaters, according to the Internet Movie Database). One of the countless "Saturday Night Live" skits that has been turned into a feature film, "Stuart Saves His Family" stretches out the Stuart Smalley skits that were usually a few minutes into 97. The result is, honestly, one of the more bearable skit-to-film translations, but, like the rest, it suffers from having not nearly enough material to fill time.
At the begining of the movie, Stuart's cable show has been moved to early, early, early morning and will likely be cancelled. Suffering from previous forms of depression and other ailments, this sends Stuart into a "shame spiral" and his crew of four self-help sponsors must go into overtime. His impressively dysfunctional family has gone through another crisis, though, and Stuart must head in to work things out.
There's the father (Haris Yulin) who calls Stuart a "waste of space", a brother (Vincent D'Onofrio) who gets wasted too often for his own good, an overeating sister and other various characters whose problems Stuart must settle, but not before he finds the answers to his own. There are some very funny lines and good-natured moments, but the patches in-between these highlights drag very noticably.
Although not particularly great, "Stuart" writer Al Franken and director Harold Ramis ("Bedazzled") have at least attempted to fill out the characters and make them more likable & human than the "SNL" films characters usually are.
VIDEO: Paramount's good enough, smart enough and doggone it, they can do a very nice transfer if they put their mind to it. Although their work for "Stuart" isn't outstanding, it's generally very good. Sharpness and detail are fine, and although there are a few little instances of softness, they are hardly distracting.
There were a few little flaws (but like Stuart might say, "We still love you, Paramount.") Some little instances of pixelation and edge enhancement appeared, as well as a few minor scratches and marks, but these were really nothing to get too worried about as they remained minor.
Colors appeared very good - there's nothing particularly vibrant or bold in many of the movie's low-budget looking sets, but colors still appeared natural and well-saturated. A good enough, clean enough, and well-defined presentation. There's a few problems, but nobody's perfect.
SOUND: "Stuart Saves His Family" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, but the film really has little for the surrounds to do. Most of the film is almost mono in nature, as both the dialogue and music are folded up into the center. During some of the scenes the film allows Marc Shaiman's perfect score to open up more, but still, there is hardly any activity throughout.
MENUS:: Basic, non-animated menus with film images as backgrounds for sub-menus & the cover for the main menu.
EXTRAS: The trailer.
Final Thoughts: At $29.99 (and, well, even $24.95 if it's on sale) I don't think that sales of "Stuart" will be going through the roof. Fans of the film will likely be satisfied by a rental of Paramount's fine, but rather ordinary, DVD.
The Film ** 1/2
Video 88/B = (352/400 possible points)
Audio: 86/B = (344/400 possible points)
Extras: 69/D+ = (207/300 possible points)
Menus: 70/C- = (140/200 possible points)
Value: 79/C+ = (237/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: ** 1/2
DVD GRADE: B-